06/20/2013 3:33PM

Churchill Downs: Teardrop shows star potential for Debutante

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Teardrop wins her maiden race at first asking for Steve Asmussen.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The summer solstice doing what it does to this western cusp of the Eastern time zone, the sun will still be up when the $100,000 Debutante Stakes is run on an 11-race Downs After Dark card Saturday night at Churchill Downs.

First post is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Debutante, the seventh race, set for 9:05. This timing portends the perhaps unintended consequence of 11 2-year-old fillies competing in daylight, as opposed to the more glamorous scenario of under the sparkling lights.

To Steve Asmussen, it doesn't matter. All he cares is whether Teardrop will continue to shine and Del Mar Holiday will continue to improve. The uncoupled Asmussen duo, both entered off Churchill maiden victories, is among the likely favorites in the 113th running of the six-furlong Debutante.

"Teardrop didn't do anything right, but did win and obviously has some ability," Asmussen said this week by phone while on a Caribbean vacation with his wife, Julie, and three sons. "And she's trained nice since her maiden win."

In her lone public appearance May 23, Teardrop broke a bit sluggishly and then tried to bolt toward the outer rail before some skillful maneuvering from Rosie Napravnik guided her back into contention. She proceeded to a 3 3/4-length triumph from there, leading to speculation that she could be the next star for a stable that has housed the likes of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra in recent seasons.

"She comes from tremendous stock and looks like she's holding up our end of the bargain so far," said Asmussen, who trains the filly for her breeder, the Winchell Thoroughbreds of Ron Winchell.

Teardrop, by Tapit, is a half-sister to Pyro, an earner of more than $1.6 million. Napravnik will be aboard again Saturday, breaking from post 8.

Just to her outside in post 9 will be her stablemate Del Mar Holiday, with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard. Del Mar Holiday, owned by Kirk and Judy Robison, finished third in her debut at Keeneland before winning here May 16.

"I thought she improved a lot from her first to second race," Asmussen said.

Besides the Asmussen pair, only one other Debutante starter has won at Churchill, and that's More Than Beauty (post 7), who did so impressively May 9. That effort is likely to make her one of the favorites here for jockey Calvin Borel and his older brother, trainer Cecil Borel.

The other starters all come off wins elsewhere -- and in fact, every one of the 11 is coming off a win, a rarity in itself. The other tracks represented therein are Lone Star Park (with two runners), Mountaineer, Arlington, Will Rogers Downs, Pimlico, Indiana Downs, and Monmouth.

Later races on the Saturday card include two allowances (races 8, 9) and the $65,000 Roxelana (race 10, post 10:42) for fillies and mares. The likely choices in a well-matched renewal of the six-furlong Roxelana include Glamour Puss, Apropos, Burban, and Livi Makenzie.

This will be the second of three consecutive Downs After Dark Saturdays (general admission, $10) that conclude the 38-day spring meet. The 2012 Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, is expected to run next Saturday, June 29, in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap. Closing day is June 30.

Kim Miller More than 1 year ago
Is Teardrop also half sister to Hansen?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No, they have the same father, but different mothers. They are only considered half-siblings if they have the same mother. Annie
kwtalk More than 1 year ago
That always has seemed kinda nuts to me...half-siblings only if same mother. It ranks right up there with a great horse's sire getting the mentions and only rarely the dam. It's just nuts.